I had a woman ask me the other day if snacking late at night would “make her fat”. She explained that she often gets her worst cravings shortly before bed but was concerned that “giving in to them” was going to add to her waistline. There is a lot of confusion about this particular topic among dieters. Let me shed some light on the subject for you.
Most people seem to think that anything eaten shortly, or even right before bed will automatically “turn to fat” due to the fact that they will be sleeping and therefore inactive for the next 8 hours or so. There is no research that offers any support to that particular claim. See, I gave you the good news first!
Our bodies aren’t obsessed with the clock like we are, and therefore do not function according to the clock. However, it is important that you understand that anything eaten during the day (from the time you rise to the time your back in bed for the night) your body counts as your daily caloric intake. If your calories consumed are greater than, or in excess of, your calories burned, there is going to be some fat storage going on. No getting around it. Another common misconception is that only excess carbs will store as fat, not true. Anything eaten in excess of what your body needs will store as fat, protein included.
So we know that calories eaten at night are no more likely to be turned into fat than calories eaten mid morning or even mid afternoon. So what’s all the fuss about then?
The thing with late night snacking that you’ll want to keep in mind is this: Often when we are in the comfort of our own homes, and even better- our own pajamas, we tend to start snacking mindlessly. Often high calorie, low nutrient foods are reached for instead of high nutrient, low calorie foods that are better for us.
Most people would choose ice cream or popcorn covered in yellow goo to sit down and watch a movie with over celery and peppers with hummus if given the choice. See my point? Ice cream and yellow goo covered popcorn are not exactly good for you- especially if eaten without any sort of portion control. That is where most folks get into trouble. On the other hand, nobody wants to feel like they have to deny themselves. I understand completely. Go ahead and snack in the evenings. If your body is saying,”Hey you! I’m hungry, could ya grab me something please?” then your body needs the fuel to help you get through your day (and your metabolic processes) as efficiently as it can. The trick is, if you’re gonna snack in the evenings, pay attention to what and how much you are eating. Just be smart and think before you eat. You and your waistline will be glad you did.